Tonight, the Calgary Flames visit the Honda Center in scenic Anaheim, California. They’re playing their final game of the season against the (Mighty Ducks of) Anaheim Ducks. There are two big cosmic things in play tonight that deserve some mention.
- The Flames haven’t won in Anaheim since January 2004, a span of 22 games – one shy of tying the NHL record for consecutive futility in a single building.
- The Flames haven’t lost the 77th game of their season since 2000-01, a span of 12 seasons. No matter how bad the Flames have been, they’ve managed to eke out a Game 77 win. (Stick tap to Hit The Post for finding this game a few years back.)
if you don’t already know about my game 77 theory, you should.https://t.co/F6JtkueIY5
longstanding runs collide on wednesday in ANA.
— hitthepost (@hitthepost) March 28, 2016
So which will be more powerful? The Honda Center Curse or the Game 77 Streak?
Find out tonight at 8pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Jonas Hiller gets his first start since March 21. He’s 9-11-1 with a 3.39 goals against average and .904 even-strength save percentage. I presume given the back-to-back situation that Joni Ortio starts against Los Angeles tomorrow. The Flames are likely without Karri Ramo (knee), Ladislav Smid (neck), Dennis Wideman (bicep), Jyrki Jokipakka (undisclosed), Johnny Gaudreau (upper body) and Michael Frolik (upper body), and Josh Jooris returns in Frolik’s absence. All the young’uns from the Arizona game get to stay in the line-up.
It’s an utterly unimportant game for the Flames, who will be boasting a roster likely full of AHL call-ups and guys auditioning for jobs. That said, the Flames are a proud, proud group who really didn’t like their awful October. They would love to have a productive March and April, draft lottery placement be damned. They played well at even-strength against Arizona and likely want to build on it against their arch-rivals.
The key to victory? Stop giving up power-play goals to the Ducks. In three of their four losses to the Ducks this season, the Flames have given up multiple power-play goals. Stay out of the box and keep Anaheim off the scoreboard, and maybe they can eke out a win.
Or maybe even just a point.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
John Gibson looks to start again after a win against the Oilers. He’s 18-11-3 with a 2.09 goals against average and .917 even-strength save percentage. He’s not quite as good as teammate Frederik Andersen, but he’s pretty close.
The Ducks clinched a playoff spot and are without a few regulars, such as Kevin Bieksa and Simon Depres, but they’re still in a dogfight with the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific (and they’re trying to fend off San Jose as well). If the Ducks take their foot off the gas pedal, the Flames could take away some sorely-needed points from them.
WHEN LAST WE MET
This is the fifth match-up between these teams this season. The Ducks have won all four previous meetings: 5-3 on November 24, 1-0 on December 29, 6-4 on February 15 and 5-2 on February 21.
In 95 previous meetings, the Flames are 37-43-15 against Anaheim.
THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM
The Flames are three points out of last place overall, albeit with five teams between them and the basement.
SUM IT UP
It’s a meaningless game for the Flames and a pretty important one for the Ducks. A win here could go a long way towards building up the group’s confidence heading into next season. And given how much the Flames don’t like the Ducks, they would probably looooove to play spoiler to some extent.